November 13, 2019

Report: Matt Williams to be fired as Washington Nationals manager

The Washington Nationals will fire Matt Williams as the team’s manager at the end of the season, according to CBS Sports.

The move comes as an expected beginning to a crucial and surely eventual offseason for the organization. 2015 saw preseason talk of a World Series title give way to an 81-78 record (at press time) and the face of the franchise, Bryce Harper, get choked in the dugout in the season’s penultimate home game by closer and trade deadline acquisition Jonathan Papelbon. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals suspend Jonathan Papelbon

The Washington Nationals have suspended closer Jonathan Papelbon for the remainder of the season, general manager Mike Rizzo announced today.

[Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 155 Review: Nats Fall Apart in Finale Against the Phillies

As if being eliminated from the playoffs not even 24 hours earlier wasn’t enough, the Washington Nationals experienced a complete meltdown in the ninth inning of Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Phillies who beat the Nats 12-5.

To make matters worse, closer Jonathan Papelbon assaulted outfielder Bryce Harper in the dugout after Harper popped out to left field in the eighth inning. To add to the escalating in-game tension, Papelbon went back out to pitch the ninth and Harper was replaced by outfielder Matt den Dekker who switched from left to right field. [Read more…]

More off-field drama for Nationals in aftermath of Papelbon-Harper altercation

It’s unacceptable.

There are ways to let a teammate know you think he isn’t playing the game “the right way.” And then, there’s what Jonathan Papelbon did Sunday afternoon.

As if the Washington Nationals needed any more drama heading into the off-season after missing the playoffs in a season they started out as near-unanimous World Series picks.

You’ve seen it by now. Bryce Harper, everyone’s N.L. MVP, didn’t bust his hump on a pop-up in the bottom of the eighth inning in what was still a 4-4 game. Papelbon jaws at Harper the entire way off the field, then once Harper is in the dugout, below Papelbon’s vantage, Papelbon goes for Harper’s throat and the two have to be separated.

Here’s the entirety, if you missed it.

Papelbon is clearly in the wrong, on all accounts. It’s not his duty to police Harper’s actions, especially from the top of the dugout in front of his teammates and within view of national television cameras. It’s especially wrong to continue the confrontation in a physical manner.

This, on the heels of Papelbon awaiting a hearing for his three-game suspension for throwing at Manny Machado last week. It’s twice in a week Papelbon has resorted to violence to enforce his view of baseball’s unwritten rules. He’s a dangerous menace.

After the exchange, manager Matt Williams inexplicably allowed Papelbon to go out and pitch the ninth, in which the Phillies proceeded to score eight runs.

Williams was obviously asked about the incident in his post-game press conference. Here was the exchange:

Q: What was behind your decision to send Papelbon back out for the ninth?

A: At the time, it’s a tie game.

Q: But given what happened?

A: He’s our closer.

Q: It appeared [Papelbon] put his hands on [Harper’s] throat?

A: He’s our closer. That’s all I’m going to say on the matter. He’s our closer. In a tie game, he’s in the ballgame in the ninth inning.

Let’s forget, for an instance, that Papelbon only agreed to the trade to D.C. because the Nats acquiesced to his demand that he only pitch in save situations, the reason he only pitched four time in the first 18 days he wore the uniform.

The idea that the manager can allow any player, but especially the pitcher, to go back onto the field into a tied game after an altercation in the dugout — which, by the way, that player instigated — is simply incredible.

After the game, Papelbon told reporters that he apologized to Harper, that he was “in the wrong.” Harper said it was like brothers fighting, and he was concentrating on the remaining games on the schedule. The players tried to say the right things and de-escalate the situation.

But actions speak louder than words. Papelbon has a long and inglorious history of this type of behavior and absolutely nothing good has happened since the Nats traded for him at the deadline.

As for Williams, his words in the press conference continue to reinforce the idea of his tone-deafness and inability to deviate from his set plan.

Describing the incident as a “family issue” that would be handled internally is akin to brushing it off. He essentially once again acquiesced to Papelbon, tacitly backing him as opposed to standing up for the team’s MVP in an altercation that luckily got no one hurt.

And all the while, Mike Rizzo says nothing, allowing the situation to linger and cast a pall on what little baseball is left.

Instead of celebrating Harper’s MVP season, instead of sending impending free agents Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond off in style, we’re left with this: watching the worst trade deadline acquisition of the season — maybe of all time — choke out the team and league’s MVP in the dugout of a tied game, then allowed back onto the field while the manager sits idly.

It’s been a long season. The offseason promises lots of turnover. Some of it was by design. Some of it now will be out of necessity. The turmoil surrounding the Nats is palpable. What just a few months ago seemed a model franchise is now under scrutiny for dysfunction.

Before Aug. 1, the play on the field wasn’t what everyone wanted, but they were still in first place. Since the trade for Papelbon, it’s all gone to hell — on the field and off. The trade was a mistake at the time, and now will prove infinitely more so.

I wrote in my piece yesterday the Nats wasted another year of Harper and Stephen Strasburg in their primes. How they handle this altercation could hasten their departure from D.C.

Papelbon attacks Harper in dugout during game

To add insult (and possible further injury) to injury, in the bottom of the eight inning Jonathan Papelbon took issue with Bryce Harper presumably for not fully running out a pop-up. Papelbon jawed at Harper on the way off the field, then in the dugout, physically attacked the likely N.L. MVP.


Courtesy FederalBaseball.com

The only appropriate response to this is Mike Rizzo coming out at the manager’s post-game press conference to announce Papelbon’s suspension and Matt Williams’ dismissal.

More following the game.

Washington Nationals Game 151 Review: Machado beats Scherzer, Nats fall 4-3

LATE HOME RUN IS DIFFERENCE-MAKER AS ELIMINATION NUMBER DROPS TO FIVE

A late home run by Manny Machado ruined Washington’s night on Wednesday. As Nationals fans celebrated the arrival of the Pope — in part hoping for a miracle — the Orioles doused the coals of the Nationals season. Max Scherzer racked up 11 strikeouts, but surrendered a pair of home runs. The Nationals assembled 3 runs on extra base hits from Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos.

There’s a point in every season where a fan’s emotional investment evaporates. Some years, that’s after the last out of the last game your team plays, others it’s late in the season when your team has moved from dark horse to longshot. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 147 Review: Nats Beat Marlins on a Sacrifice Fly in Extra Innings

The Washington Nationals made things interesting on Friday night and ended their night with a 5-4 win  over the Miami Marlins on a sacrifice fly hit by Catcher Jose Lobaton. The fly ball hit by Lobaton sent outfielder Jayson Werth home to score and secure the victory.

Starting pitcher Max Scherzer stayed strong through seven innings pitched despite a minor hiccup of a two-run homer hit by Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich in the first inning. Scherzer threw 104 pitches and 70 strikes while giving up five hits and two runs. He walked two, struck out two, and threw one wild pitch.

The Nats offense caught up with Miami the next inning by scoring a run on a solo homer hit by Clint Robinson off Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez making it 2-1 through two innings played. Fernandez lasted five and two-thirds innings while giving up five hits and two runs to the Nats.

Washington tied it up at 2-2 in the sixth inning when outfielder Bryce Harper scored on a wild pitch thrown by Fernandez but the Marlins pulled ahead 3-2 in the eighth while facing reliever Felipe Rivero.

A throwing error made by second baseman Anthony Rendon with reliever Blake Treinen on the mound in the eighth tied it up 3-3  before the Nats pulled ahead by a  run after in the bottom half of that same inning. Wild pitches thrown by Marlins reliever Jose Urena resulted in movement along the base path for the top of the Nats order. Pinch runner Trea Turner scored on a on a sacrifice fly hit by shortstop Ian Desmond to center field to tie it up and Harper scored on a clutch single hit by outfielder Michael A. Taylor giving the Nats a 4-3 lead.

Miami caught up with the Nats to tie it back in the top of the ninth against closer Jonathan Papelbon, whose been ill the past few days with a fever and wasn’t 100% according to Manager Matt Williams. Marlins shortstop Miguel Rojas tied it up by scoring off a sacrifice fly hit by Miami’s lead off man Dee Gordon but the Nats would take the game in the tenth inning on Lobaton’s sacrifice fly off reliever Brian Ellington as redemption.

HERO: Lobaton for the sac fly in the tenth.

GOAT: Papelbon for blowing the save.

NATS NOTES:

  • The Nats are 8-2 in extra innings this season now.

UP NEXT: LHP Justin Nicolino (3-3, 3.81) and the Miami Marlins face RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.51) and the Washington Nationals in Washington, D.C. at 4:05 p.m.

Washington Nationals Game 146 Review: Nats Fall Short Against Marlins

The Miami Marlins beat the Washington Nationals 6-4 on Thursday night in Washington, D.C. Starting pitcher Tanner Roark lasted five innings against the Marlins while giving up six runs on eight hits — including two home runs — and striking out four batters. Roark threw 80 pitches and 54 strikes.

Miami dug into Roark right away starting with lead off man and second baseman Dee Gordon. Gordon opened the game up with a single before third baseman Martin Prado went long with one out putting the Marlins up 2-0.

Washington tied it up at 2-2 in the second inning  when outfielder Jayson Werth scored on a two-run homer crushed by shortstop Ian Desmond off Marlins starting pitcher Jarred Cosart. The Nats didn’t manage to get another run again until the sixth inning and it was already too late by that point.

The Marlins took a four-run lead in the fifth inning against Roark and the Nats on four hits. Shortstop Miguel Rojas led off the inning with a double before scoring on a sacrifice fly hit by Gordon making it a 3-2 ballgame. A pair of back-to-back singles hit by outfielder Christian Yelich and Prado followed by a three-run homer hit by first baseman Justin Bour was the game’s “decider” moment according to Washington’s Manager Matt Williams with the Marlins up 6-2.

The Nats had an opportunity in the eighth inning to tie up the game but only managed a pair of runs. Washington left the bases loaded and the tying run at the plate while falling to Miami 6-4. Third baseman Anthony Rendon led off the inning with a single off reliever Brian Ellington and moved to scoring position on a single hit by outfielder Bryce Harper off reliever Mike Dunn. A two-out , two-RBI single hit by Desmond off reliever Bryan Morris putting the Nats within reach of the Marlins but it wasn’t enough.

HERO: Desmond for presenting the Nats with a clutch offensive performance. He went 2-for-4 with a home run and a single. Washington only had six hits on Thursday. He had two of them.

GOAT: Roark didn’t get the job done. It’s that simple.

NATS NOTES: 

  • Closer Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable today due to falling ill. He had a fever.
  • The Nats bullpen held the Marlins for four innings tonight. Nobody scored against Doug Fister, Matt Grace, Rafael Martin, and Matt Thornton.

UP NEXT: Jose Fernandez (5-0, 2.06) and the Miami Marlins face Max Scherzer (12-11, 2.91) and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. at 7:05 p.m.

Washington Nationals Game 139 Review: Another night, another late inning collapse

METS COMPLETE THREE-GAME SWEEP WITH RALLY IN 8TH OFF STRASBURG, STOREN

Since the New York Mets overtook the Washington Nationals  more than a month ago, everyone — media, fans, the front office, Matt Williams, the players — have pointed to the six games the Nats had left with the Mets head-to-head.

They’ve squandered the first three. Despite holding a lead going into the seventh inning for the third night in a row, the result remained the same. The Mets rallied, no one on the Nats could shut the door, and the prohibitive favorite to win not just the N.L. East — but represent the senior circuit in the World Series — lost again.

This time, the Nats fell 5-3 to the Mets, falling seven games behind — and 9 1/2 out of the wild card — with 23 to go. [Read more…]

Washington Nationals Game 129 Review: Strasburg Pulled Early, Nats Beat Marlins

The Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 7-4 on Sunday afternoon despite starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg being pulled after four innings pitched.

Strasburg threw 60 pitches and 43 strikes in four innings while giving up four runs and two home runs on seven hits while striking out three batters. According to the team after the game, Strasburg left with an upper back injury not considered to be serious. [Read more…]

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